Because of Camp...Kelly's Story

Posted by Kelly Peneston on 17 October 2012 | 0 Comments

I love summer camp, I love working with children, and most of all I love working alongside people that inspire me to do more and be more

Like many of the Talooli staff, I literally grew up at camp. I have spent more than twenty summers at Talooli, beginning as a camper, and now working as the Assistant Camp Director. In my youth, camp was one of the only places I felt truly understood and comfortable being myself. Like many young people, I had a lot of insecurities about my appearance, social standing, skills, and my place in the larger picture of society. Summer camp provided me with a strong and diverse community of people that not only accepted the person I was, but made me feel like I had something important to contribute in the world.

I spent four incredible summers as a camp counselor and four more years as the Boating Director. During those eight summers, I was given the opportunity to directly influence the lives of children and youth on a daily basis. I LOVED playing games with kids, chasing them around the ballfield, performing skits with them, and encouraging them to push the boundaries of what they were comfortable doing. This immeasurably rewarding time helped me to discover my life goal to continue working on behalf of children as a school psychologist.

Over the past three summers I have transitioned away from working directly with children, and I spend much more time working with teens and young adults. While I miss the close connection to kids, I LOVE what I do. One of the greatest parts of my job is getting to work with the incredibly gifted and passionate young people that come together to create our staff.  In a society where we are constantly told that teenagers and young adults today are increasingly lazy, self-centered, and lack a work-ethic, our 16 to 25 year-old staff are some of the most competent, caring, and driven individuals I have ever encountered.

Summer camp counselors are some of the bravest and coolest people I know. Not only are these young adults expected to “keep track of” their 6-8 campers, they also serve as teachers, leaders, care-givers, entertainers, activity leaders, role-models, mentors, and occasional disciplinarians. If you've never tried it, let me tell you it is not an easy job! Our counselors enthusiastically do this job for seven weeks each summer and more than 80% of our staff returns each year.

I care deeply about the staff I work with. I respect the work that they do and they have become part of my family. I take great pride in watching the staff grow and learn as they get their first group of day campers and then when they get to be a resident counselor for he first time. Their successes are my successes. People frequently ask me why I continue to work at camp, and my answer is simple: I love summer camp, I love working with children, and most of all I love working alongside people that inspire me to do more and be more.


Kelly Peneston

Assistant Camp Director, 2010-2012

Boating Director, 2006-2010

Camp Counselor, 2002-2005

Talooli Camper and CIT, 1992-2001

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